How to create the perfect homemade lasagna
Lasagna is one of the most iconic Italian dishes. This rich and indulgent oven baked pasta dish originated in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy and has since become a popular feature of restaurant menus all over the world.
There are variations on the classic lasagna recipe and many modern chefs have created fusion versions of the traditional plate to embrace and celebrate international diversity. Lasagna is a versatile meal, which can be served with a crisp salad and a refreshing glass of white wine in the summer months or with a rustic garlic ciabatta and a hearty glass of red in the winter.
The classic lasagna recipe
Ingredients for a classic lasagna al forno include: beef mince, pancetta (optional), onions, garlic, celery, beef stock, tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, chopped thyme, lasagna sheets, flour, mature cheddar cheese, butter, milk, Dijon mustard, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to season.
Making the ragu
The ragu is the rich, tomato-based sauce, which lies between the layers of pasta. It is made by combining the vegetables and garlic, beef stock, tomatoes and mince. Before you start cooking, preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Creating a traditional Italian ragu is a time-consuming process, usually taking around two hours, but the results are spectacular. Once the mince is fully browned in the frying pan and the tomato sauce is bubbling, cover the pan and then place in the oven for between 1 and 1.5 hours.
Making the white sauce
The white sauce provides a decadent, creamy layer on top of the mince. To make a smooth white sauce, place the butter in a saucepan and melt on a medium heat and then add the flour. Mix together and then pour in hot milk and stir gently. Once the sauce starts to thicken, add the mustard and Parmesan cheese and then season with a pinch of pepper and salt.
To assemble your lasagna
Pour one third of your mince mixture into an ovenproof dish and then layer the lasagna sheets. Place another layer of meat on top of the sheets and build until you have used all your mixture. Pour the white sauce over the top of the final layer of pasta and then sprinkle the Cheddar cheese on top. Use plenty of cheese to give you a delicious topping.
Cook your lasagna at 200 degrees for around 45 minutes or until the cheese is crispy and golden and then serve.